Speakers’ Corner: The UK tech repair market is growing rapidly

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If it’s broken, we’ll fix it – quickly – says iSmash founder and MD Julian Shovlin

There’s no doubt the tech repair market in the UK is growing rapidly, even in the face of stiff competition and well-publicised difficult market conditions for bricks and mortar stores.

And yet, we’re seeing an ever-increasing demand from consumers looking for a trusted repair service for their treasured devices. Because people are continuing to increase the number of devices they have and the slowing pace of technological innovation, a new culture of ‘repair not replace’ is starting to dominate in the UK.

Current trends in the repair market
The technology market is constantly evolving, with a new device launching every few months. But recently, it seems that each new top range model released has fewer truly ‘ground-breaking’ new features.

This is resulting in a declining number of consumers choosing to upgrade to the latest model. According to our research, the upgrade cycle has now risen on average to around 29 months.

For retailers, this trend of repairing rather than replacing is far from encouraging. Addressing these issues is all about relevancy – and importantly, relevancy from an informed customer-first approach.

Consumers are becoming increasingly attached to their devices and struggle to function without them for more than an hour, let alone days, which is the standard repair time through many network operators and insurers.

It was crucial, therefore, that we incorporated this into our business model from the beginning by offering 30-minute express repairs while also being able to offer a lifetime warranty and make our service affordable for all.

It might seem simple but, for bricks and mortar stores in the mobile industry, conditions remain challenging and the way to thrive is to remain agile. This means being open to new technology and listening to, and actioning insights from, your customers.

Our plans are going to see us take our store count from 26 to 70 by the end of 2021. There are a lot of factors that will contribute to making that goal a reality, all of which will need to counter any further challenges thrown up by the wider industry.

So, while our strategy covers everything from property location, due diligence and ensuring we work with the right strategic partnerships within the industry to better serve and reach our customers, we’re also very aware of the need to remain agile and to innovate.

The future of the tech repair industry 
The future of tech repair is led by our customers and the continued evolution of technological devices. What consumers value above all else is speed and convenience, something we’ve actively built our business and mission statement around.

For tech repair specifically, mobile insurance providers have quickly started to recognise that the seemingly antiquated model of post-in centralised repair isn’t really a viable solution for customers any longer.

It’s arduous, inconvenient, expensive and incredibly difficult to deliver in
a seamless way for the customer. Helping to transform that process for insurance providers and ultimately our end customers through bringing claims fulfilment to the high street, whilst also delivering cost efficiencies to the insurers, is a focus for iSmash as we expand our business and as the tech repair sector continues to evolve.

Meanwhile, the market is still dominated by a huge number of local third-party repair providers, but I believe that the market is starting to consolidate as a small number of reliable and qualified high street and online brands emerge as market leaders, better serving customers’ needs, and therefore winning market share.

I’m a firm believer that the brands who invest in their supply chain and operate in a customer centric way will rise to the top, so it’ll be interesting to re-evaluate the rules of engagement again in a couple of years.

 

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